Ex parte Martha Bradstreet In the Matter of Martha Bradstreet, Demandant

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
Citation7 Pet. 634,8 L.Ed. 810,32 U.S. 634
Decision Date01 January 1833
PartiesEx parte MARTHA BRADSTREET: In the Matter of MARTHA BRADSTREET, Demandant

32 U.S. 634
7 Pet. 634
8 L.Ed. 810
Ex parte MARTHA BRADSTREET: In the Matter of MARTHA
BRADSTREET, Demandant.
January Term, 1833

AT the January term of this court in 1832, on the motion of Mr. Jones, counsel for the demandant, the court granted 'a rule on the district judge of the district court of the United States for the northern district of New York, commanding him to be and appear before this court, either in person, or by an

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attorney of this court, on the first day of the next January term of this court, to wit, on the second Monday of January Anno Domini, 1833, to show cause, if any he have, why a mandamus should not be awarded to the said district judge of the northern district of New York commanding him:

1. To reinstate, and proceed to try and adjudge, according to the law and right of the case, the several writs of right and the mises thereon joined, lately pending in said court, and said to have been dismissed by order of said court, between Martha Bradstreet, demandant, and Apollos Cooper et al., tenants.

2. Requiring said court to admit such amendments in the form of pleading, or such evidence as may be necessary to aver or to ascertain the jurisdiction of said court, in the several suits aforesaid.

3. Or, if sufficient cause should be shown by the said judge on the return of this rule, or should otherwise appear to this court, against a writ of mandamus, requiring the matters and things aforesaid to be done by the said judge; then to show cause why a writ of mandamus should not issue from this court, requiring the said judge to direct and cause full records of the judgments or orders of dismissal in the several suits aforesaid, and of the processes of the same, to be duly made up and filed, so as to enable this court to re-examine and decide the grounds and merits of such judgments or orders, upon writs of error; such records showing upon the face of each, what judgments or final orders dismissing, or otherwise definitively disposing of, said suits, were rendered by the said district court; at whose instance, upon what grounds, and what exceptions or objections were reserved or taken by said demandant, or on her behalf, to the judgments or decisions of the said district court in the premises, or to the motions whereon such judgments or decisions were found; and what motion or motions, application or applications, were made to said court, by the demandant, or on her behalf, and either granted or overruled by said district court, both before and after said judgments or decisions dismissing or otherwise finally disposing of said suits; especially, what motions or applications were made by said demandant, or on her behalf, to said district court, to be admitted to amend her counts in the said suits, or to produce evidence

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to establish the value of the lands, &c., demanded in such counts, together with all the papers filed, and proceedings had in said suit respectively. (6 Pet. 774.)

The Honorable Alfred Conklin, judge of the district court of the United States for the northern district of New York, appeared before the court, by Mr. Beardsley, his counsel; and in pursuance of the rule, made the following statement as a return thereto.

To the supreme court of the United States: In answer to a rule granted by your honorable court, the certified copy whereof, hereunto annexed, was on the 21st of December instant served upon him, the undersigned begs leave respectfully to state, as follows:

1. That after the mises had been joined in the several causes mentioned in the rule, motions were made therein, on the part of the tenants, that the same should be dismissed, upon the ground that the counts respectively contained no allegation of the value of the matter in dispute; and that it did not therefore appear by the pleadings, that the causes were within the jurisdiction of the court. In conformity with what appeared to have been the uniform language of the national courts upon the question, and his own views of the law; and in accordance especially with several decisions in the circuit court for the third circuit (see 4 W. C. C. 482, 624), the undersigned granted these motions. Assuming that the causes were rightly dismissed, it follows, of course, that he ought not now to be required to reinstate them, unless leave ought also to be granted to the demandant to amend her counts.

2. After the dismissal of these causes, as above stated, motions were made therein, on the part of the demandant, that the same should be reinstated, and that she should be permitted to amend her counts. These motions the undersigned considered it to be his duty to deny; and he can, perhaps, in no other manner more properly show cause why he should not now be required to do what he then refused to do, than by here inserting a copy of the opinion which he delivered upon that occasion. This opinion is as follows:

'This cause having, at a former term of the court, been dismissed, upon the ground, that it did not appear upon the face of the demandant's count, that the case was one to which the

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jurisdiction of the court extends, a motion has been made by the demandant, for leave to amend her count, and that the cause be reinstated in court. There are also a great number of other causes brought by the same demandant, standing in exactly the same predicament, and depending, of course, upon the decision of this. The question is, therefore, important, and by no means free from difficulty. Under these circumstances, and ample time having been afforded to the parties for thorough investigation, it was expected that the question would have been more fully and satisfactorily argued. It is incumbent upon me, however, now to decide it; and I shall proceed to perform that duty. The defect in question is clearly one in substance. It consists in the want of any averment in the count, of the value of the land in dispute, an allegation, without which the court will not ever take jurisdiction of the cause.

'The power of the national courts to grant amendments, depends upon the 32d section of the judiciary act of September 24th, 1789, which is as follows: [this quotation is omitted as unnecessary to be here inserted.] With the exception of the last clause of this section, it is understood to relate exclusively to defects in matters of form. No proceeding in civil cases is to be rendered ineffectual, by reason of any such defects; they are to be disregarded in giving judgment, except when especially set down as causes of demurrer; and are to be amended, of course, without the imposition of conditions. To this extent, the language of the section is also imperative. The last clause of the section, however, extends, in terms, to defects of every description, in the process and pleadings, and confers upon the courts a discretionary power of permitting amendments therein, upon such conditions as they shall direct. Without stopping, then, to ascertain the precise limits of this authority, it may be safely assumed, that it extends to the case before the court; and the true question for decision is, whether this is a fit instance for its exercise? No affidavit has been furnished, as the foundation of the motion; and I do not understand it to be pretended, that there are any circumstances of a special nature, entitling the demandant to favor. Leaving out of view, therefore, for the present, as peculiarity affecting

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the case, which will be noticed in the sequel, the application presents the naked question, whether, as a general rule, the demandant in a writ of right ought to be allowed to amend a defect in substance.

'It is wholly unnecessary to refer to adjudications in the English common pleas (in which court alone this action is cognisable in that country), to show how such an application would be there decided. No one in the least degree conversant with the settled usage of that court, in this respect, can doubt, that it would, without a moment's hesitation, be denied. But as one of the reasons for the great strictness which prevails in England (viz., the long period of limitation against this action), does not exist in an equal degree here, and as it is contended, that this difference would, of itself, warrant a relaxation of the rules which govern there, it is important to advert to a few of the English decisions, in order the more clearly to perceive to what extent this court would be obliged to depart from them, to permit an amendment in the present case. In the case of Charlwood v. Morgan, 4 Bos. & Pul. 64, a motion was made to amend the mistake of a Christian name in the count, founded upon an affidavit accounting for the mistake. The motion was however denied, upon the ground, that there was no precedent to warrant such an amendment; the court, at the same time, declaring, that they should have been willing to amend, had not the case before them been a proceeding by writ of right. The demandant then asked leave to discontinue; but this was also refused. In the case of Maidment v. Jukes, 5 Bos. & Pul. 429, a side-bar rule to discontinue having been entered, the court ordered it to be set aside, with costs. And in the very recent case of Adams v. Radmay, 1 Marsh. 602, a motion was made, on the part of the demandant, for leave to quash the writ of summons to the four knights, on the ground, that no previous notice of executing it had been served on the tenant's attorney. The application, it was urged, was made in the demandant's own delay, ex majori cautela; lest it should be objected that the tenant would have a right to challenge the four knights. But the motion was denied, Lord Chief Justice GIBBS declaring the rule adopted, on

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consideration, to be, that the court will not assist a demandant in a writ of right in getting over any difficulties that may occur to him. And the other judges concurred in what he said.

'To this brief reference to English cases, I will...

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29 practice notes
  • Telecommunications Research and Action Center v. F.C.C., Nos. 84-1035
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 24, 1984
    ...interfering with the Court of Appeal's potential review of the Circuit Court's determinations); Ex Parte Bradstreet, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 634, 8 L.Ed. 810 (1833) (ordering lower court judge to reinstate, try, and decide a case to ensure that the party before it could exercise her subsequent rig......
  • Federal Trade Commission v. Dean Foods Company, No. 970
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 13, 1966
    ...the potential jurisdiction of the appellate court where an appeal is not then pending but may be later perfected. Cf. Ex parte Bradstreet, 7 Pet. 634, 8 L.Ed. 810 (1833) (Marshall, C.J.). These holdings by Chief Justice Marshall are elaborated in a long line of cases, including McClellan v.......
  • Barber Asphalt Pav. Co. v. Morris, 46.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 24, 1904
    ...to challenge the stay, and the Supreme Court awarded its writ of mandamus nisi in the nature of a procedendo. In Ex parte Bradstreet, 7 Pet. 634, 644, 8 L.Ed. 810, the District Court, upon whose final judgment upon the merits the cases in question were then reviewable in the Supreme Court, ......
  • Roche v. Evaporated Milk Ass, No. 584
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 3, 1943
    ...of the statute authorizing the writ thwarted by unauthorized action of the district court obstructing the appeal. Ex parte Bradstreet, 7 Pet. 634, 8 L.Ed. 810; Insurance Company v. Comstock, 16 Wall. 258, 270, 21 L.Ed. 493; McClellan v. Carland, supra, 217 U.S. 280, 30 S.Ct. 504, 54 L.Ed. 7......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Telecommunications Research and Action Center v. F.C.C., Nos. 84-1035
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 24, 1984
    ...interfering with the Court of Appeal's potential review of the Circuit Court's determinations); Ex Parte Bradstreet, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 634, 8 L.Ed. 810 (1833) (ordering lower court judge to reinstate, try, and decide a case to ensure that the party before it could exercise her subsequent rig......
  • DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. GROUP INS. ADMIN., No. 92-CV-437
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 28, 1993
    ...Id. at 603, 86 S.Ct. at 1742 (quoting Ex parte Crane, 30 U.S. 190, 193 (5 Pet.), 8 L.Ed. 92 (1832) and citing Ex parte Bradstreet, 32 U.S. 634 (7 Pet.), 8 L.Ed. 810 (1833)). Furthermore, the Court observed, the power to issue preliminary relief also covers cases involving administrative dec......
  • Federal Trade Commission v. Dean Foods Company, No. 970
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 13, 1966
    ...the potential jurisdiction of the appellate court where an appeal is not then pending but may be later perfected. Cf. Ex parte Bradstreet, 7 Pet. 634, 8 L.Ed. 810 (1833) (Marshall, C.J.). These holdings by Chief Justice Marshall are elaborated in a long line of cases, including McClellan v.......
  • Barber Asphalt Pav. Co. v. Morris, 46.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 24, 1904
    ...to challenge the stay, and the Supreme Court awarded its writ of mandamus nisi in the nature of a procedendo. In Ex parte Bradstreet, 7 Pet. 634, 644, 8 L.Ed. 810, the District Court, upon whose final judgment upon the merits the cases in question were then reviewable in the Supreme Court, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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